The Isla Vista Recreation & Park District held a community bike tour with its board of directors on Oct. 21. The tour group visited different parks throughout Isla Vista and discussed proposed updates to play structures as well as other potential improvements.
The tour began at the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District (IVRPD) Office at 1-4 p.m. and continued through I.V. with stops at Anisq’Oyo’ Park, Estero Park, Tierra De Fortuna Park, Kid’s Trail, Gaffney Park and Trigo-Pasado Park. IVRPD provided bikes and refreshments at the office for community members prior to the start of the tour.
IVRPD board members and staff discussed the pros of each park and reflected on past updates made in order to increase safety and fun for I.V. residents. Such updates include the renovations of Greek Park, Pardall Gardens and Children’s Park.
Kimberly Kiefer, IVRPD general manager, explained how Anisq’Oyo’ Park is at the optimal location due to its closeness to the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic.
“I think it’s nice having the outlet for the clinic [for] families or whoever at the clinic to have a place to come and be, which is a nice thing about this access,” Kiefer said.
IVRPD board clerk Nicholas Norman said he enjoys the park’s proximity to the IVRPD office, making it a convenient place for people to bring their kids.
“One of the cool things about this playground is it’s near the office when you have the summertime youth program,” Norman said. “A lot of the kids that have grown up [in I.V.] now have kids and they live in I.V. and they like to bring their kids here.”
IVRPD Vice-Chairperson Kim DuFore said the location of Estero Park is also convenient as it is next to the community gardens and a water pump. One feature in particular she highlighted was the pump track that is one of the few places in I.V. for people to practice bicycle motocross.
“There are so few places for kids to ride bicycles,” DuFore said. “It’s a great safe practice track for kids with bicycles because really, there’s just nothing. I mean, you’ve got some sidewalks but yeah.”
Kiefer elaborated on some of the general structural improvements made to the play structures in I.V. parks as well as ongoing safety measures.
“The new slide was actually installed in 2020. We have current play equipment, including a slide, monkey bars, climbing structure, and again this is designated for five to 12 year olds,” Kiefer said. “A lot of young adults play on it as well [so] the five-bar gets replaced at least twice a year.”
This upcoming Halloween, IVRPD plans on setting up play equipment in Anisq’Oyo’ Park for people to make use of as they celebrate.
“This is the first year that as part of the Halloween event we’re going to include a whole area of play for all ages. So some of our play equipment that we bring out for concerts and other things like that, we’re trying to include the play area during our events,” Kiefer said.
One of the main safety concerns raised was the parks’ close proximity to parking lots, potentially posing a threat to children playing in the area.
“It’s close to an active parking lot. Kids tend to run towards things, so that’s something to consider,” Kiefer said. “We have a pretty active cul-de-sac in an area where we have a lot of vehicular traffic, right by a playground, which is great if you are unloading your family and kiddos and not so great if you’re trying to keep them on the playground.”
Kiefer also briefly touched on some of her goals for the year which include expanding seating in the parks, expanding on disability accessibility and inclusive play features, installing better stormwater drains and fixing the pump-house wheel in Anisq’Oyo’ Park.
A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Oct. 26, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.